SAMUT SAKHON — The Governor of the province at the center of a new wave of coronavirus outbreak tested positive for the virus, the government said Monday.
Samut Sakhon Gov. Veerasak Vijitsaengsri has been at the forefront of an effort to contain the pandemic in the province, which already saw more than 1,548 infections as of publication time. The news was announced by public health minister Anutin Charnvirakul, who shared close contact with the Governor at several meetings in recent days.
“The Governor was infected because he worked hard to take care of the public, to keep them from contracting the virus,” Anutin wrote online. “Even though he took good care to protect himself, there might have been a mistake.”
Anutin said he has been put in self-isolation. He was present with Veerasak at several occasions over the weekend, including a meeting and a public event to demonstrate safety of seafood in the coronavirus pandemic.
“Now that the Governor is infected, I am at risk as well,” Anutin said, adding that he tested negative for coronavirus today.
Weerasak is the highest level official to date to have been infected with the virus. On the same day, the government’s pandemic response center reported that the coronavirus has spread to 44 provinces – more than half of Thailand’s administrative regions.
“If we do nothing, the graph will spike up by the middle of next month,” spokesman Taweesin Visanuyothinr said Monday.
Of the new 144 infections, the majority, or 115, are local transmissions. Fourteen are migrant workers while 15 are returnees in state-run quarantine, Taweesin said.
The health authorities have identified at least two clusters in the ongoing outbreak: a shrimp market in Samut Sakhon’s Mahachai seafood bazaar, and a gambling den in Rayong – the province saw at least 56 infections alone.
New cases were also found in Nakhon Pathom (17), and in Bangkok (12). Six new provinces had confirmed cases Monday: Surin, Narathiwat, Nakhon Nayok, Chiang Mai, Sukhothai, and Lopburi.
There were no new deaths, and the cumulative number of infections is at 6,285.
Starting Monday, many venues in Rayong city center are ordered closed until further notice, including pubs, bars, schools, child and elderly care centers, massage parlours, fitness centers, beauty clinics, pools, museums, malls, and department stores.
Boxing stadiums, cockfight grounds, and billiards venues are closed down indefinitely across the entire province – apparently to prevent a similar ‘superspreader’ scenario at a boxing ring in Bangkok earlier this year.